Today, over 90% of jobs worldwide already have a digital component and most jobs will soon require sophisticated digital skills but unfortunately, by 2030, more than half of all young people will not have the basic digital skills necessary for the workforce of the future. As the accelerated adoption of online learning continues and the use of digital technologies for daily activities become a norm, the apparent digital skills gap is having untold effects on the most marginalized population especially women and adolescent girls. Despite the pronounced significance of digital skills as vital building blocks for participation in the digital world, almost one billion girls around the world (i.e. 65% of all girls and young women under 24) lack these skills. As a matter of fact,, lack of basic digital literacy – including the skills to functionally be able to use the Internet and digital technology, as well as the knowledge of how to do so safely – is a fundamental barrier to internet adoption and to the development of the digital economy. So, while the digital skills gap is evident across regional boundaries and income levels, it is more severe for adolescent girls and women who are older, less educated, poor, or living in rural areas and developing countries. This growing digital skills gender gap has enormous implications for the gains made on gender parity over the last decades and to promote an equitable digital society, there is a need to ensure equal access to technology, digital training and online safety and close the widening digital learning gaps.
To bridge the gender digital divide as well as promote women and girls’ representation and participation in today’s digitally connected world, AREAi is deploying a tailored and curated digital skills development programme under its digital equity focus area. With a firm focus on the most marginalized, particularly young women that are NOT in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and adolescent school-aged girls, the Digital Skills Accelerator for Women and Girls has two learning tracks; the Basic Digital Skills for Learning Program for girls between age 13 and 18, and the Advanced Digital Skills for Employability Program for young women between age 18 and 25. These phased interventions across a combined 9 months curriculum respond adequately to the digital learning needs of both young women and girls in building digital competence and acquiring digital skills through a rigorous skill-based learning approach, with a distinctive peculiarity in the scope, content, and delivery of skills programming for either of these populations. Through our DSA program, we will be supporting young women and girls aged 13-25 in building digital awareness, competence and digital skills required to leverage digital tools and platforms for learning and or socio-economic advancement. Unarguably, giving women and girls access to the Internet and the skills to use digital technologies provides them the opportunity to access the benefit of our digitally connected world.